Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us. Now all you need is someone to watch these movies with:
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Since there is no character development in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Miller and Rodriguez take the superficial route in the most literal way. Characters “change,” or get more hardened and badass, after they experience literal facial scarring. Whether it’s Jessica Alba or Brolin, no one learns anything until they have the chance to say, “You should see the other guy.” This visual metaphor highlights how profoundly thoughtless this sequel is: it lacks the curiosity to consider basic human impulses, and instead is a style exercise for its own sake. The ultimate genre poseur, Frank Miller would rather get his jollies through this work, which demonstrates an ugly contempt for his audience.
- Earth to Echo. Here’s what we said in our original review:
It’s always convenient for a critic like me when a movie serves up a moment that encapsulates it, andEarth to Echo obliges. It happens when our pubescent protagonists meet Echo, the eponymous extra-terrestrial cute-bot around which the movie’s well-oiled plot machine revolves. They start by asking Echo questions about itself, which it answers, oddly reminiscent of Christopher Pike, in beeps: one for yes, two for no. At this key moment, which both establishes the nature of the doe-eyed space-owl we’re supposed to become attached to as well as its relationship with Our Young Heroes, the film instead has the narrator simply tell us “we talked for hours!” and leap right ahead to the next bout of shaky-camera running-jumping. Earth to Echo obsesses with the easy parts and punts on the hard parts, and its lack of effort in building character and relationships are what make it not just a letdown but a cynical, exploitative one.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- 22 Jump Street. Here’s what we said in our original review:
21 Jump Street worked incredibly well because it relied on how ridiculous the idea of adapting an 80s TV drama about undercover teen cops would be updated into a comedy. Making a sequel to 21 Jump Street seems equally – if not more – ridiculous. So instead of relying on the nostalgia of the original, 22 Jump Street decides to not just parody the idea of sequels, but also itself, its stars and basically anything else it can get its hands on. It’s a format that works really well for this now-franchise, even if it does lead to a lack in surprises.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Alan Partridge. Here’s Jesse Hassenger over at The AV Club:
In a broad sense, Alan Partridge recalls the half-forgotten Comedy Central stapleAirheads—released two decades ago, when concerns about the corporatization of radio were more timely. Yet to the degree that the new film thrives for satire, such an outdated issue suits its semi-absurdist character study: How fitting that Partridge, who wants so desperately to stay ahead of or at least on the curve, would be a little late catching up to some 20th-century anxieties. The movie doesn’t set out to redeem Coogan’s vacuous creation; instead, it shows how a vain and slightly dim man goes crazed with the slightest hint of power or greater celebrity. To this end, the defining shot of the film comes when the camera zooms in and holds on Partridge’s vacant stare as he flips through channels, searching for footage of himself at the siege.
- Los Angeles Plays Itself. Here’s Callum Marsh over at The Village Voice:
Los Angeles Plays Itself is a film about other films, thoroughly indebted to and engaged with cinema past and present; it is a work of both historiography and theory. To that end it betrays a lifetime of research, as voluminous as it is varied — Andersen is as capable of elucidating the neorealist aspirations of Killer of Sheep as he is the geography delineated and compressed by Death Wish 4. Occasionally a hierarchy of personal taste reveals itself: When, for instance, Andersen contrasts the blinkered pettiness of Steve Martin’s whitewashed L.A. Story (“there are two blacks with speaking parts — both restaurant employees”) with the independent “cinema of walking” pioneered by Kent MacKenzie and The Exiles, it’s rather obvious which he prefers.
- Virunga. Here’s Kenji Fujishima over at Slant:
As a piece of activism, Virunga is sufficiently eye-opening and enraging in its depiction of, among other things, a ruthless corporation threatening to steamroll over natural wildlife in its search for oil. But the most surprising thing about Orlando von Einsiedel’s documentary is its smashing effectiveness as a rousing piece of storytelling: This is muckraking journalism that moves confidently with the brio of an action thriller.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!